Diamond Grading: This is How Your Diamond is Analyzed for Quality

diamond grading

Diamonds come with grading reports, which are an official grading of their qualities. But have you ever wondered how diamonds are graded? Or who grades them? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how diamond experts grade the 4Cs (color, cut, clarity, and carat) to determine a diamond’s quality.

Who Grades Diamonds?

First, let’s quickly talk about who grades diamonds. Diamonds are graded by diamond grading organizations like the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and EGL USA (European Gemological Laboratories). Using specialized equipment, diamonds are analyzed and graded for quality. Three of the 4Cs are somewhat subjective (cut, color, and clarity), while carat is an objective measurement of a diamond’s weight. The people who grade diamonds at these official organizations are certified gemologists who have been trained to use the proper equipment to analyze diamonds, then give them an accurate grading.

Now, let’s move on each of the 4Cs and talk about their scales and how appraisers use equipment to grade them.

Carat

While many people confuse carat with a diamond’s size, carat is a simple measurement of weight (though carat can give you a general idea of a diamond’s size). When analyzing carat, grading organizations use an extremely accurate electronic micro-balance machine to weigh diamonds to their fifth decimal place.

Color

Color is a measurement of how colorless a white diamond is. Diamonds are graded on a scale of D (completely colorless) to Z (lightly colored). To determine a diamond’s color, diamond graders place the diamond in a standardized viewing environment and compare each diamond to “color masters,” records of the color of each diamond color grade.

Because color is a subjective grading that must be done by the human eye, some organizations, including the GIA, have multiple graders evaluate each diamond independently. Then, the diamond is only assigned a grade when these separate graders have come to a consensus.

Clarity

diamond grading

Clarity is a measurement of how flawless a diamond is, both internally and externally. Internal flaws are called inclusions and external flaws are called blemishes. It’s extremely rare for diamonds to be be completely flawless, though many diamonds have flaws that can only be seen under magnification.

To determine a diamond’s clarity, grading organizations view diamonds under magnification, looking for inclusions and exclusions and any evidence of clarity treatments. Then, they rank them on the following scale:

FL – Flawless
IF – Internally Flawless
VVS1 to VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included
VS1 to VS2 – Very Slightly Included
SI1 to SI2 – Slightly Included
I1 to I2 to I3 – Included

Because clarity is a subjective grading like color, some diamond grading organizations such as the GIA also use at least two graders when determining clarity. The graders must come to a consensus about the diamond’s clarity before it is officially graded.

Cut

diamond grading

Cut is a grading of how well a diamond was cut, which has a major impact on how a diamond captures light. Cut is graded on a scale of excellent to poor. When analyzing cut, diamond graders calculate the proportions of each diamond facet, then determine how these proportions affect a diamond’s ability to capture light.

Cut is one of the trickiest of the 4Cs to evaluate, as it requires meticulous attention to detail and a high level of expertise. The data graders collect must be compared to millions of diamond cut proportions when determining cut grade. Because it is a complex process, diamond grading organizations have rigorous standards and practices in place for evaluating cut grade.

EGL vs. GIA: What’s the Difference?

egl vs. gia

When buying a diamond, you want to always make sure it comes with an official grading of its quality. But there’s more than one organization that can grade diamonds. Many people wonder: does who grades a diamond make a difference? In this post, we’ll go in depth on two of the most popular grading organizations: EGL vs. GIA. We’ll talk a bit about the background of each organization, then go in depth on the potential differences in their grading reports.

EGL vs. GIA: The Companies Themselves

We’ll start by covering some basic background about these two organizations, starting with the GIA.

The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is one of the most widely known diamond grading organizations in the world. (Fun fact: they created the 4Cs.) The GIA is an independent, non-profit organization that has many different grading laboratories over the world. While they have many laboratories, their grading practices are guided by strict standards, so their labs offer highly consistent results. They also have strict objectivity standards. All GIA diamonds are graded anonymously, so the grader cannot be influenced by the person submitting the diamond for grading.

The EGL (European Gemological Laboratories) is an independent network of gemological laboratories. There are different branches of the EGL in different countries, like EGL India, EGL Platinum (Israel), EGL Canada, and EGL South Africa. The United States branch of the EGL is EGL USA. Because the EGL is not as centralized of an organization as the GIA, reports from different countries can often be quite different. While EGL USA has a better reputation for grading more strictly, other EGL branches (namely, EGL Europe, EGL Canada, and EGL Israel) are known to almost always overestimate quality on their reports.

EGL vs. GIA: Grading Differences

So, let’s get into the potential grading differences in EGL and GIA grading reports. As we stated in the last section, the GIA has rigorous standards and practices in place for their grading, which are streamlined across all their labs. As a result, their reports are considered to be highly accurate and strict. On the other hand, EGL often grades a bit too high. Even EGL USA, which is known to have stricter standards than EGL as a whole, can grade a diamond one to two grades higher than it should be graded.

Keeping this in mind, let’s talk a bit about what this discrepancy means for you, the shopper, when considering EGL versus GIA grades.

Differences in Color Grading

The color of a diamond is a measurement of how white it is, with D being the best and Z being the worst. So, say the GIA grades a diamond as a G. That same diamond may be graded differently by the EGL. The EGL has a reputation for grading up to two grades higher on color. Because of this, the same diamond could be graded an E by the EGL but a G by the GIA.

Differences in Cut and Clarity Grading

egl vs. gia

The EGL is known to grade up to one grade higher on both cut and clarity. For example, a diamond graded by the GIA could have a VS1 grading for clarity and a Very Good for cut. That same diamond could be graded by the EGL as having a VVS2 for clarity and an Excellent for cut, one grading up for both.

Differences in Carat

While color, cut, and clarity are subjective gradings, carat is not. Carat is simply a measurement of weight and is the one “4C” that is not known to differ between the EGL and the GIA. 

What This Means When Shopping?

egl vs. gia

You should keep the differing grading standards of the EGL and the GIA in mind when shopping for a diamond. You might find that an EGL graded diamond with the exact same qualities as a GIA graded diamond is considerably cheaper. But remember that the EGL can skew high with their gradings. This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy an EGL diamond, just that you should take their grading standards into account. If you’re buying an EGL diamond, you may want to consider buying a grade or two higher to get the quality you want.

EGL vs. GIA: Your Choice at Diamond Studs

While Diamond Studs carries both GIA and EGL USA graded diamonds, we understand that some customers may prefer one over the other. That’s why we offer our customers the ability to browse based on grading organization. On our GIA & EGL USA Certified page, you can always select either organization and browse only the diamonds graded by the one you prefer. This tool is available as a part of our diamond sorting feature, alongside the other sorting tools for color, clarity, carat, cut, and price.

Guidelines for Choosing Quality Diamond Studs

Diamond studs are an incredibly versatile jewelry staple. They pair perfectly with almost every outfit— plus, their design can be customized to suit your exact tastes. You can choose your ideal metal, setting, diamond shape, and diamond quality for your studs. But when there are so many variables when shopping for diamond studs, how can you be sure you’re buying the pair that’s right for you? Read on to see our guidelines for selecting quality diamond studs! 

1. Mind the 4Cs

The four Cs are important to consider when buying any diamond, and the diamonds in your diamond studs are no exception. If you don’t already know, the four Cs are four different qualities that define a diamond: diamond carat, diamond cut, diamond clarity, and diamond color.

Carat, perhaps the most well known of the four Cs, is a measurement of how much a diamond weighs (and is also a reasonably good indicator of size). Cut is a measurement of how well a diamond was cut, clarity is how clear (meaning free of inclusions and blemishes) a diamond is, and color defines how white a diamond is.

When considering how well diamonds in a pair of diamond studs stack up according to the four Cs, it’s important to know how important each quality is to you. Do you want the whitest diamond you can get? Or do you want the largest diamond you can get? You can choose which aspects of your diamonds are the most important to you, then shop with that in mind.

2.  Only Buy Certified Diamonds

This step is extremely important when shopping for diamond studs: you should only buy diamonds that are GIA or AGSL certified. If the diamonds you buy aren’t certified, there’s no way of ensuring you know the quality you’re buying. To avoid overpaying for subpar diamonds, it’s best to never buy uncertified diamonds.

3.  Consider A Pop of Color

While white diamonds are certainly the most classic choice for a pair of diamond studs, diamonds come in many different color options. If you are shopping for someone who loves to wear color (or if you’re shopping for yourself and you love color), consider choosing blue or yellow diamonds for your studs. You can also choose different neutral colors for your diamonds; brown and black diamonds are sophisticated alternatives to white diamonds.

4.  Choose Your Metal

Selecting the right metal for your diamond studs is important both stylistically and practically. On the practical side of things, you should remember that gold is softer than platinum, and is more likely to get scuffed. And the higher the karat of gold, the softer it is. So if you’re shopping for someone who’s very active (or maybe someone who just doesn’t want to be super careful with their jewelry), platinum or a lower karat gold might be a better choice for them.

Style-wise, certain people simply prefer certain metal colors over others. If you’re shopping for yourself, you likely know which metal colors appeal to you most. But if you’re shopping for someone else, make sure to consider which color of jewelry they might like best.

5.  Pick A Setting You’ll Love

Diamond studs can be set in a few different ways. They can be prong set, which allows the side of the diamond to be seen. Or they can be bezel set, which shows very little of a diamond’s sides but has the advantage of being exceptionally secure. You can also choose to get a halo setting, which adds major sparkle to a pair of studs. Think about which setting appeals to you most (or would appeal to whoever you’re shopping for) before you buy.

6.  Keep It Secure

The last step to choosing your perfect diamond studs? Make sure you pick the right backing style for you. Earring backings are what keep diamond studs securely in place on your ear, and there are a few different kinds. Push backs are the standard earring backing, screw backs are a more secure backing that screws into place, and secure lock backs are the most secure backing that locks into place. Consider which backing would best suit you (or the lucky person you’re shopping for), then choose the backing that you think would work best.

Those are our six guidelines for buying quality diamond studs! Ready to buy your perfect pair? Check out our diamond stud builder to design your ideal diamond studs.

One of the Largest Diamonds in the World Discovered

Last month, one of the largest diamonds in the world was discovered in Lesotho, a small country in Southern Africa. The newly unearthed diamond, mined from the Gem Diamond’s Limited owned Letseng mine, is a whopping 910 carats, making it the fifth largest raw diamond ever discovered.

The Letseng mine has been known to produce other exceptionally large and high-quality diamonds in the past. The mine has also produced a 493-carat diamond, a 550-carat diamond, and a 603-carat diamond. But their newly mined, massive diamond is by far the largest the mine has produced.

A Closer Look at the 4Cs of Fifth-Largest Raw Diamond

  • Carat: 910 carats
  • Color: D color Type IIa
  • Clarity: Currently Unknown
  • Cut: Currently Uncut

 

Another thing that’s exciting about this newly-discovered diamond is the exceptionally high quality of the gem. In addition to its high carat weight (it’s said to be as big as two golf balls), it also has an excellent color. The new gem is a D color Type IIa diamond, an incredibly white diamond with absolutely no trace of nitrogen discoloration.

The clarity of the diamond remains to be seen and will likely be evaluated after the stone is cut. And the cut of the diamond, always one of the most important indicators of diamond quality, will also be hugely important in determining the quality— and the value— of the diamond.

The Value of the Fifth-Largest Raw Diamond

The value of this newly discovered diamond depends hugely on how the diamond is cut and whether or not it is found to have any major inclusions. Certainly, even if the diamond has large inclusions, it will still garner a high price due to its carat and color alone. But if the diamond has few very minor inclusions, it could become of one of the most expensive diamonds in the world.

Determining the value of the diamond is all speculation at this point. But Ben Davis, an analyst at Liverum Capital Markets, told Bloomberg, “.. assuming there are no large inclusions running through the diamond, we initially estimate a sale of $40 million.”

The Five Largest Rough Diamonds Ever Discovered

  • Cullinan Diamond (3,106 carats)
  • Lesedi La Rona Diamond (1,109 carats)
  • Excelsior Diamond (995 carats)
  • Star of Sierra Leone (969 carats)
  • The newly-discovered Letseng diamond (910 carats)

 

The discovery of this new diamond marks a new entry in the top five largest rough diamonds ever unearthed. Because it’s a new entry, it’s also currently the only diamond without a nickname. Whether it’s named before or after it’s cut, this incredible new find is sure to be buzzed about for many years to come.

In time for Valentine’s Day: Hearts and Arrows Diamonds

Couple behind heart shaped balloonWith all things Valentine’s coming shortly after the holidays, what better way to integrate the celebration of Valentine’s Day with your special person than the rare Hearts and Arrows diamond? The Hearts and Arrows diamond is truly a rare high-quality stone which is brilliant in its interconnection with Cupid’s myth. There is no better way to romance and celebrate Valentine’s Day than by gifting your loved one, a Hearts and Arrows diamond to say, “Cupid chose you for me.”

diamondstuds image on 1-12The Hearts and Arrows Diamond is the top when it comes to Diamonds. The pattern is a compelling masterpiece as it serves symmetrical perfection, revealing eight arrows from the crown (top) view and eight hearts from the pavilion (bottom) view. In a class, all its own, known as “the super ideal cut,” Hearts and Arrows Diamonds are defined by its superior light performance, material quality, and precise optical symmetry. It is also special in its rarity and production of its quality requires four times longer than a standard cut diamond. The Hearts and Arrow cut diamond adds a unique luminescence as it sits majestically on any piece of jewelry.

dstuds_1-12pt2The name Hearts and Arrows diamond is coined by Kinsaku Yamashita, trademarked in 1988. The impact the Hearts and Arrows diamond is beyond popular, it is iconic! The Hearts and Arrows pattern is the most praised masterpiece and style when it comes to manufacturing diamond cuts because of its perfect symmetry. The level of precision is beyond the “excellent” criteria symmetry rating. And so because well cut diamonds are rare, to begin with, Hearts and Arrows pattern increases attention to grading cut profoundly making the patterned diamond cut even more so a rarity.

In conclusion, the connection with Valentine’s Day and the Hearts and Arrows Diamond are both derived from their essential natures. An undeniable meaningful bondage between Cupid, gift-giving, and love. This Valentine’s Day, say it with a sparkle and grant Cupid the choice of a Hearts and Arrow Diamond to catch the heart of your lover, with an unrivaled shine of almost 60 facets! Shop DiamondStuds.com and through our collection of Heart & Arrows Diamond Jewelry.

4C’s of Diamond Quality

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), created the first and what is now globally accepted standard for accessing diamond quality. Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat-weight, primarily known as the 4C’s, is the universal language for people to know what exactly they are buying.

Here at DiamondStuds.com, we offer precious stones that are GIA & EGL certified. All certified diamonds are accompanied with a grading report from a gem lab to ensure buyers of what type of diamonds is best for their specific need and budget.

When we speak of diamond quality, taking into account the cut is one of the main priorities. The proportions of the diamond opposed to its shape (round, princess, cushion, etc.), allows us to see the shine when maximum amounts of light hits the top of the diamond. Of course, the more fine and well-made the cut is, the higher quality the diamond is. Color comes into play when determining the quality of the diamond. The color of the diamond is based on the color or lack thereof of yellow hues. The whiter the diamond, the higher the quality. The GIA comprised of an alphabetized- scale that grades the diamond on the noticeable colors it has. 

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The clarity of diamond means the total amount of natural flaws, or “blemishes” it has. Some of the natural inclusions can be visibly seen with the naked-eye, and other times the diamond has to be professionally examined to see the quality. The clearer a diamond is the more valuable it is. When completing the process of evaluating the diamond quality, the carat is the final step. Not to be mistaken for carat-size or the amount of karat gold, this refers to the actual weight of the diamond. Typically, one might think the bigger the stone, the bigger the carat. However, this is not always the case. As the carat-weight of a diamond increases, so does its rarity and the quality & price.

Let this be a guide for the next time you select a diamond. Whether you are looking to “pop the question” to that special someone, or looking to enhance your jewelry game, this can help you become an expert.